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Game Day Watch, 3/1: Kings, Blue Jackets, and Another New Team That Will Hate the Kings

Roundup! Plus, Seattle prepares to make LA their rival in 2020, unless the Canucks are actually good by then.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

HOW TO WATCH

Game Time: 7:30 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: KABC AM 790
Stream: Fox Sports Go (requires cable subscription), NHL.com (free tonight!)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

if you’re a Kings fan: Despite efforts by Kings fans to build Anze Kopitar For Hart buzz, it probably isn’t happening unless Kopitar scores 30 points in the last 18 games. (Challenge accepted, Anze?) But Kopitar has been in rare form lately, and with Jeff Carter back and contributing, there’s a chance of the offense taking off down the stretch. What if I told you it already has, though? The Kings have at least three goals in 11 of their last 13 games, and with Jonathan Quick having rounded into form again, LA can be optimistic even with some tough opponents on the schedule.

if you’re a Blue Jackets fan: This is March! Columbus went 10-4-2 last season in March before losing eight of ten in April, including four of five in their first-round loss to Pittsburgh. This year their playoff spot is in doubt, though, and they’re looking to new acquisitions Ian Cole and Mark Letestu to contribute down the stretch. The eighth seed in the East is not a good place to be when you share a conference with Tampa Bay, so this month is critical.

if you’re a hockey fan: Tonight is unusual. With the 9th-11th seeds in the West idle and the 9th seed in the East four points behind 8th, no teams will move in or out of playoff seeding tonight. What do you watch if you’re not watching the standings? I guess you can watch to see if LA fans still remember Jack Johnson or if Jeff Carter still remembers Columbus.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

for the Kings: Jonathan Quick. Jack Campbell isn’t coming for the throne, but that doesn’t matter, because Quick put up a terrific February after a lousy January. Somehow, though, Quick only won four of ten games last month despite putting up a .926 save percentage, and a .935 if you exclude that wretched Carolina affair.

for the Blue Jackets: Joonas Korpisalo. The Columbus backup has only started three games in 2018, but with Anaheim looming tomorrow, the Jackets elected to start their backup in LA. Bold! The 23-year-old has struggled at the NHL level since a nice rookie campaign in 2015-16, but he’s streaky and capable of stealing a game.

LEAGUE/WORLDWIDE WATCH

  • 31 Thoughts! Some explanations on why Max Pacioretty didn’t get traded to LA, which primarily consist of “How did Marc Bergevin think he was gonna get Tyler Toffoli AND Gabriel Vilardi?”, and a note that LA was eyeing Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist.
  • An impressive start to Seattle’s NHL ticket drive. I think they’ll have fans, and they’ll hate the Kings, just like Golden Knights fans do.